8.1 – Check, please!

At this point, each vehicle is almost at the end of its production journey. In a few hours it has been transformed from a sheet of bare metal to a high-quality car worthy of a five-year warranty. But there is still plenty of work to be done. Our completed car now faces its sternest test as it heads through the Quality Assurance department, where a team of skilled workers will put the car under the microscope one final time.

8.2 – Hands-on job

Cars arrive from the Assembly Shop on an overhead gantry. Their first stop in Quality Assurance is the interior check team, where it takes 15 minutes to examine every part of the interior.

Next to be inspected for quality of fit and finish is the bodywork and exterior trim. This is where the most sensitive tools in the factory are used for the first time – members’ hands. They’re trained to feel along the body panels and panel gaps to check for imperfections or inconsistencies. However, finding any faults would be a surprise. Each car has passed numerous inspections already, and built-in quality processes mean that faults are spotted and fixed long before the car reaches this point.

Quality Assurance members carry out over 2,000 checks on every car before it leaves the factory. It’s all part of Poka-Yoke – one of the values of the Toyota Production System that translates as ‘mistake-proofing’.

8.3 – Function follows form

Once the interior and exterior checks are complete, the engine is started. In fact, as a car makes its way through Quality Assurance the engine will be started and stopped six times.

In the function line, the underbody is checked and the fit and finish of the exhaust and floor pan is scrutinised. Then while the steering alignment is fine-tuned, bolts and fixings are double-checked for security. The headlamp height, angle, beam and brightness are examined to ensure brightness and reach, and there are eight different types of brake light to check – each designed to comply with different legal requirements in the 56 countries to which the cars are shipped.


8.4 – Water torture

Everything now aligned, each car heads to a rolling road for a series of running and brake tests. HereĀ it is accelerated to speeds of up to 70mph and the functioning of the anti-lock braking system is checked. External systems like windscreen wipers are also put under the spotlight.

Soon afterwards, the car is subjected to a special leak test that drenches it with more than 900 litres of water in a specially adapted shower room. It’s the equivalent of driving through water pressure that exceeds the heaviest recorded monsoon. Naturally, all the water is recycled back into the system and reused.


8.5 – Power is nothing without control

A properly functioning electronic control unit, or ECU, ensures each car runs properly. The ECU check may take just seconds but the programme tests every function the car will need to use in its lifetime. Surprisingly, there remains one important part that still needs to be fitted – the airbag in the steering wheel. It is left to the end of the production process for safety reasons and because the steering column needs to be accessible.

Engine and chassis quality confirmation ensures there are no leaks. The confirmation process here involves using video probes to get a close-up view of brake union joints and other tricky-to-see areas.


8.6 – Put under the spotlight

It’s the last stop. But to make sure each Toyota is looking its best, it’s time to hit the light tunnel. This last inspection confirms once again that the paintwork is up to standard and that there are no scratches or dents.

The car is now ready to leave the production line at Burnaston. A total of 825 processes have turned sheet steel and parts into a fully functioning, road-legal car in a little more than 12 hours.